In March 2021 Care UK, became the first care sector organisation in the world to join #FairKitchens, a global movement aimed at building a healthy, robust and sustainable kitchen culture for the hospitality sector. The aim of the movement is to make the happiness of catering teams as important as diner satisfaction.

James Clear, Hotel Services Manager & Chef, Care UK, is spearheading the partnership with #FairKitchens. He says “The movement aims to improve the lives and working conditions of foodservice operators worldwide. It does this by sharing best practices and resources from partners and ambassadors who believe in the same vision. The long-term ambition is to make #FairKitchens a point of preference, recognised not only by potential staff as great places to work, but also the general public as an assurance mark of a high quality dining experience.”

Research undertaken in 2017 by Unilever Food Solutions in America reported that 74% of chefs in the hospitality sector were sleep deprived to the point of exhaustion, 63% were depressed, more than half felt pushed to breaking point and one in four had been physically abused. As a result, the company founded the movement #FairKitchens the following year. It has since garnered support from chefs such as Michael Giulotta and Naama Tamir as well as organisations including Hospitality Action, Hawksmoor, The Burnt Chef Project and Craft Guild of Chefs.

James says “As the hospitality industry comes out of the biggest challenge it has ever faced, we need to create a healthy and positive kitchen culture that enables people to thrive. That’s good for retention and will encourage youngsters to join the profession.”

When James first heard about the #FairKitchens movement, he realised that Care UK already practised what the movement promotes in terms of training, working hours, the kitchen environment, values and overall ethos. “I genuinely believe we have a lot to offer by showcasing what a healthy catering environment looks like, so was pleased to become an ambassador. I feel passionately there is room for improvement in the way chefs and catering staff are treated and like the idea of doing something to help drive that improvement” says James.

Paying tribute to Jon Bicknell, his Director at Care UK, James comments “He (Jon) is an inspirational leader who has completely changed the way care catering and dining with dignity is offered in our homes. He gives the leadership team the freedom to introduce some fantastic initiatives such as joining #FairKitchens.”

James believes the days of head chefs and owners swearing at and bullying staff belongs firmly in the past, stating that “People who work as a cohesive, happy team not only serve up better food, but their mood extends to the dining room and customers will pick up on it. No-one wants a special dinner ruined by a bad atmosphere.”

As an ambassador of #FairKitchens, James has been sharing videos on social media platforms to promote the movement in the hospitality sector and throughout Care UK’s 125 homes, recommending other care homes to join, stating “If you believe in what it stands for, then you’ve nothing to lose.”

Businesses can show their support by becoming a friend of the movement via the website. Your company’s logo will be displayed on the supporters’ page and a digital toolkit is available to download and show your support on social media and promotional materials.